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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 8, 2012 1:25pm-1:45pm EDT

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importance of the moment we're living in interesting we have that tendency to do that. when you study history, you realize that things take 500 years sometimes to develop certainly the secularization of the western world is one of those things. >> host: "unchristian america. living in a faith that was never-under god." michael babcock is the author. >> now more from liberty university. professor ron miller sat down to talk about his book "sell you. musings from uncle tom's porch." >> host: liberty university professor ron miller in your book "sellout, musings from
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uncle tom's porch" you ride you smile when you're called an untell tom. why is that? >> guest: i smile because i understand what uncle tom was actually meant to be as the author harriet beecher stowe presented in her original novel. i think over the years, both because of the way the character has been portrayed minstrel shows, and tom is an arch type o a christ like figure and he died because he refused to divulge the whereabouts of a slave he helped escape and that's a noble character and one i embrace. so when i hear that term, it confound people and also -- if they're interested in learning more, i'm more than happy to tell them about the character.
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>> host: your title of your book you have probably gotten some response. >> guest: absolutely. absolutely. the idea came about because a lot of times when you're a person of color and you have conservative plate val views, you get certain names that your mother never intended for you, and rather than run away from that, i used it as a title because it grabs you and highlights one of the themes in the book, which is that if you're going to have an honest discussion in america about the topic of race it needs needs toe multifaceted,en can't be one-sided, and the book came about because of eric holder making the statement that we're a nation of cowards because of our inability to discuss race, and at the time i took exception to that comment because to me, if we can't have an honest discussion even within the black community about the topic, then how can we expect anyone else to speak candidly. then i listed the names of all
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of the individuals who have gotten into trouble and inherited some of those names i talk about, because they chose to be candid about the topic of race, personal responsibility, accountability, and how we look to the future rather than the past. >> host: who of those people? >> guest: well, big cosby is the biggest example. naacp back tire affair he decided to use that opportunity to be critical of the current generation and their inability to take advantage of the gain from the civil rights movement, and he took a lot of flak for thought but he is unapologyityic about it. he continues to speak out, if not at these fancy events. at neighborhood churches and other venues across at the country where he talks about the need for us not to let our circumstances define us but to take charge and be vicors rather than victims, and that's not a message that resonates well within some circles. you have other people like condoleezza rice, clarence
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thomas, people like ken blackwell, enis, the his goes on people who are willing to present an alternative view, and because of this back and forth of name-calling and other things i felt the need write bit it not just from a perspective of policies and pathologies and all that but a personal perspective. i was raised in a family where our beliefs and our values, the things we were taught, if you stripped away the whole issue of race, we would be considered conservative. then our political aliege januarys didn't aline with the values, and when i went to conditional and started to examine that for myself, didn't understand that dichotomy, and eeventually i started to show a little more integrity within by aligning my values with the way i practice my politics, and i think when people start understanding motivations and understanding whys and
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where-fors of things like that, then you begin to have the basis for dialogue rather than confrontation. and i spend lot of anytime book not talking about what supply why i believe it, but i talk about why i think blacks in the community have certain views of the world, why they have a particular position on one issue or another, and in doing so, trying to increase the scope of understanding. i'm a very big believer that if you sit down with the intent to understand, and you don't use language that's going to immediately shut down the conversation -- i don't know if you're familiar withed godwin's law, talks about how long before an online discussion deinvolves into someone calls someone else aeneas simple there's a certain thing that happens where a word is thrown out there and there's no word for any further discussion. i'm trying to avoid that in the book and the way i approach people on a day-to-day basis.
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having said that, if i sense that someone is being untruthful or deceitful, i confront that, at least as i see it. >> host: ron miller you talk about a year you spent living in lake charles, louisiana. that's one of the worst years of your young life. why? >> guest: well, as a military brat, growing up in integrated schools and not being accustomed to a school where you had predominantly black students in the student body, and the attitudes that came with it. here i am, a kid that dressed a certain way, spoke a certain way. had a certain level of respect for authority. and you put me into an environment where those kinds of things were not held in regard, and i was ridiculed. i was harassed. the teachers' pet, acting right, talking like a white boy, all these kind of things were thrown at me. the irony was the only around
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didn't get beat up is these two white kids at the school took a liking to me and defended me. i'd say in the book they were much bigger than anyone else. they might have been held back a couple of grades. but it was going through that experience and realizing there was all this animosity when it came to -- not just race but the whole archtype what it went to be black, and as someone who believes in the dignity and work of every individual and how that individual was made in the image of god, really take exception to the idea that there's some kind of a standard out there that says, this is what it means to be black, and anyone who doesn't fit into this box can't possibly be black. you hear it even today in debates. jesse jackson, couple of years ago, saying you can't be against the president's healthcare plan and call yourself black. why not? last time i looked in the mirror, i think i qualified.
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so, the whole experience i had in that one year was just a challenge to the whole notion of what it meant to be black, and as i said, i can't wait until my dad's next duty assignment to get out of there. >> host: whenoy hear the term post-racial, that does that mean to you? >> guest: doesn't mean a lot. i think it meant something when some of the more thoughtful writers i read shortly after the election of president obama, discussed the possibility that now, finally, we can move forward because they recognize that this nation was capable of not only embracing blacks as americans but electing a black man to be the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet. so i was hopeful but it didn't last long and it's like a lot of things like that, that pop up. i think it had a lot more theory behind it than actual practical meaning. >> host: in your view does the republican party have a
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responsibility to reach out to african-americans? >> guest: they do, and i think they failed to be quite honest. i was disappointed to hear that representative alan west from florida had a meeting on capitol hill with a group of black conservatives and invited a representative from the republican national committee and they didn't show up. and while the pragmatic side of me understand they feel that if they're going to invest time in building an electoral coalition they probably aren't going to get a whole lot out of working in the black community. one thing i learned both as a person who has been in the political arena and run for office myself, is that they're very much into a return on investment approach to dealing with voters of. if they don't feel like they're going to get a quick and substantial r.o.i. in going after a particular demographic, they're just going to dismiss and it move on and that's what they have done with the black community. they concluded there is no
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fertile ground there, and i think that's mistake. they need to take a long-term view and need to remember why the republican party was created in the first place, and they need to reconnect with black voters, not only politically but philosophically. die believe fundamentally that the black community is a conservative community. i believe there are emotional issues that have clouded that relationship, and i actually tell people -- they talk about the racist fringe of the countian party. i say you have the racist fringe and then you have the soft bigotry of low expectations that permeates a lot of liberal views of the black community. which one do you prefer? so in that record the republicans have responsibility to get a thick skin and at some level try to build relationships. not that they will see immediate returnness this election or the next one. but i know for myself i feel less lonely now than i did in
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the '70s because i know social media, for example, i encounter hundreds of black conservatives, and i figure if i have 300 or 400 or 500 black conservative friends on facebook, that tells me there's a significant number of them out there in the general population, and for whatever the reason -- maybe it's because of the election of president obama -- they feel excelled to -- compelled to come out and express their point of view and it's an incredible change and one the republican party can use to their benefit. and to me the black community only benefits from having a comprehensive dialogue. to have it all one-sided isn't going to best interest anyone because one side will take you for granted and the other one will ignore you. >> host: you also praise newt gingrich of the what's your connection? >> guest: i praised him because
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he seems to have an understanding what i just talked about. where the republican party falled down on the job when it comes to reaching out to people of color. being from the south, he seems to have a much more acute sensitivity to the relationship between black and white americans and a lot of others. i won't say i agree with him on everything but i do know that when the republican party struggled to get candidates to appear on a forum back in 2008, which was specifically geared toward minority voters and minority issues, he was one of the people that came out and was highly critical of those candidates who for whatever reason chose to attend. ironically mitt romney was one of the candidates. but i feel that he has clearly been affected by a lot of what's happened in the south and civil rights. i understand from just reading his own background he was profoundly affected by the assassination of dr. king. obviously he and herman cain are good friends. and so i feel he has a pulse on
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the conservative/republican outreach to the black community that a lot of candidates don't have. >> host: as far as racial real estates in the u.s., do you believe the election of barack obama as president was a stub forward just on its face? >> guest: on its face it was a step forward. i think what has disappointed me is being in a position of leadership as he is, he has the opportunity to smooth those things over, to move us toward a different kind of race relations, and i think that because of ideology, he chooses not do that. i wonder sometimes, given his background, whether he actually has the kind of leadership we need to bring black and white americans together as equag heirs of the american dream.
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i thing there's been more polarization -- i wrote the book in 2010 about the time the naacp came out with a resolution accusing the tea party elements of race simple, -- racism, and n dog that i thought, let's stop talking about this. let get past the plate superficialallities, and sadly to think the same things i wrote about are relevant today and i haven't seen anything changes. if anything i have seen things get worse and i think racial tensions are as high as they have been any lifetime. >> host: we're going through another potentially rarity incident, the trayvon martin incident. what are your thoughts about that. >> guest: just based on what i know -- i may not -- >> we're taping this in late march. >> guest: right. i think that there was malice aforethought on the part of the
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shooter, and i thought he did shoot this person because of his perception of a young black man in that neighborhood. so, i have never said that racism didn't exist, and i wouldn't say that we're not going to have these kind of incidents. it's unfortunate that we have people who are willing to use these incidents for their agendas. i think it's appropriate to be indignant, to be angry, but i think to go into the fray and to stir up anger, as reverend sharpton has done, and to cause provocation that is unnecessary -- we see both the federal government and the state of florida trying to investigate. we have seen the police chief of sanford, florida, step down. all of the things that are supposed to happen in the justice system are happening and i don't think there's nye need to stir up emotions but unfortunately i think a lot of what we call the black agenda in america today is driven by emotions of an inability to let
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the scars heal and there are those out there who have no issues ripping the scabs off. >> host: what do you teach here at liberty university. >> guest: assistant professor of government. i teach american exceptionalism, which is my primary class, and i'm also an associate dean for the online program for all of the helm school of government. so we're involved in clinal justice, politics and policy, and prelaw programs and international real estates. >> host: is america an exceptional nation? >> guest: yes, i believe it is. i don't believe it's exceptional for any reason other than it is built on an ideal, and it's an ideal that the nation strives and strains to live up to but i believe at least to this point in our history, we have always come out of these conflicts better than we were when we went into them. it's tragic, like the civil war, and it takes a long time, but as long as we are wedded to the
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ideal expressed in at the declaration of independence, that all men are created equal, as long as we adhere to that. that makes us exceptiony. not that we're great but we strive to be good. >> who is anik? >> guest: she is my wife. from france, and is a linguist i met when i was at texas tech university in texas, and she is probably the most apolitical person in the world. i did have her read my book and did get her seal of approve butout won't see her out there on the -- she is one of these people that likes to sit back and take in information and act in a quiet and confident manner. >> host: you talk about one of your first dates where friends invited you over to see "guess who is coming to dinner." >> guest: yes, a friend of mind was a big fan of sidney poitier,
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and we went to his home, and anik was relatively new to the country. she just arrived for her first semester abroad, and we watched the movie and afterwards she approached me and wanted to know what the fuss was all about because the movie talks about sidney portray bosh portier with a black fiancee, and it talk beside civil right is one thing and this is entirely different, and you get a lot of that even today, but she didn't understand it, and that was so refreshing to me. not only did it give collapse to act like i was an expert on american race relations. it was really great to know that from her perspective, she wasn't looking at me from that -- through that prism of race, and i told people in college there's
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lat of tension about the issue of interracial dating, and i proved i'm an equal opportunity dating and we have been married 28 years this july so clear live i must be doing something right or she must be much more tolerant. >> host: in conclusion, let's go back to the -- where we started. can we have an honest relation -- honest discussion in this country about race relations? >> guest: i'm a hopeful person and i believe we can and i believe that starts with me. in terms of how i deal with people. i get a lot of people that will communicate with me through facebook or other social media, when i put something out there, they come at me in a confrontational way. i respond with grace. they come back at me, respond with grace, and you would be amazed if you stay in the mode of responding respectfully and graciously, they start to break down and evenly you start to get to a
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